Sunday Radical Roundup: Marry That Book Before She Gets Much Older!

May 9, 2010, 11:59 am

Despite the strange weather, and an oil spill in the Gulf as big as Rhode Island, it’s the beginning of summer break and you know what time it is! Time to get gussied up and get hitched to that book manuscript again! This time the relaitonship will work, I swear: there has been counseling, there are promises not yet broken, and for some of us a new computer will get things started on the right foot. So in the interests of a proper, Connecticut-style traditional wedding, the Radical recommends the following news items to you this week.

Something Old: Looking to warm up by writing an article? Well, look around you and check out who the buildings are named for. At UT-Austin, there is a dormitory named after a member of the Ku Klux Klan, so says Thomas Russell (who used to teach there.) The dorm was built in 1954, and named after a former UT law professor, William Stewart Simkins, who used to boast of his time defending white womanhood in formal speeches on campus. While students don’t seem to have been aware of Simkins’ white supremacist past scratch the surface of many buildings in the former Confederacy and see what you find, children; then start on the other parts of the country), the UT administration is. Russell has recently posted his research on the topic. Not accidentally, Russell argues, the dormitory was named shortly after Brown v. Board of Education. “During the 1950s, the memory and history of Professor Simkins supported the university’s resistance to integration,” Russell argues. “As the university faced pressure to admit African-American students, the university’s faculty council voted to name a dormitory after the Klansman and law professor. The dormitory carries his name to the present day. During this time period, alumni also presented the law school with a portrait of Professor Simkins. Portraits and a bust of Professor Simkins occupied prominent positions within the law school through the 1990s.”

Something New: And it is so rare in the historical profession! We’ve got a new journal out published by Routledge called Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice that is devoting itself to out-of-the-box historical writing. As the website describes it, the journal “allows historians in a broad range of specialities to experiment with new ways of presenting and interpreting history. Rethinking History challenges the accepted ways of doing history and rethinks the traditional paradigms, providing a unique forum in which practitioners and theorists can debate and expand the boundaries of the discipline.” Hat Tip.

Something Borrowed? Somebody said to me the other day that a certain fabulous feminist scholar was toying with the idea of ditching Nirvana and heading to one of the best Little Women’s Studies Ph.D. programs in the East. No, no, no it ain’t me babe, although for a few months the door was cracked open and I appreciated the peep inside. Back to the real news: even if this scholar is just a loaner, this university continues to make a serious effort to recruit and retain the best feminist faculty around.

Something Blue: Or at least I find this depressing. For those of us who write about the political history of pornography (is there more than one of us? enquiring minds want to know) we will probably have to start calling it “sex porn” soon. The Week writes that Americans are becoming addicted to “war porn,” combat images and video from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that critics charge are no more than snuff films. “No one loves this kind of footage, says the military blog Mudville Gazette, more than the mainstream “news” business, which gets a ratings boost whenever they employ it, too.”

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